Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko could have gone down in Ukrainian history as the first president to have broken Ukraine’s bonds with its Soviet past and that system’s ruling principles — favoritism and corruption. But instead he decided to choose a much more lucrative path. That path consisted of fighting the successor of the USSR, that is, the Russian Federation. However, this fight was primarily verbal with no salient action. On the other hand, a personally profitable business relationship with Russia did manage to flourish.
Current President Poroshenko is getting ready to enter the pending election campaign with the intention to convince the Ukrainian people as well as the whole world that only by being re-elected for a second term will he be able to maintain Ukraine’s pro-European and pro-American position and deter Russian aggression.
However, a thorough analysis of Mr. Poroshenko’s business ties and the milieu that Ukraine’s president acts in, suggests, if not a friendly, than at least close business connections with the Kremlin.
An incident mentioned in L. Todd Wood’s article for The Washington Times is actually one piece in the jigsaw puzzle of Ukrainian corruption. One of the schemes for money-laundering was implemented as follows: During the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, funds illegally obtained by his partners were withdrawn to foreign accounts. After their withdrawal, the funds were invested in Ukrainian government bonds and placed in the accounts of Ukrainian banks. According to Al Jazeera, Valeriya Gontareva’s company, called LLC Investment Capital Ukraine (ICU), was a key element in that scheme.
In 2013, ICU, Sabulong Trading and Quickpace Ltd. concluded a brokerage contract. According to it ICU purchased bonds from the state Oschadbank.
Shortly after Maidan took more than 100 lives, control over these offshore companies, Quickpace and Sabulong, including the bonds for $160 million and approx. $30 million of accrued interest was obtained by two businessmen for $20 million — Ukrainian Oleksandr Onyshchenko and Russian Pavel Fuks, whom L. Todd Wood mentioned in his article. The issue of releasing the Quickpace and Sabulong offshore accounts was dealt with by Ms. Gontareva’s partner, Makar Pasenyuk — who is Mr. Poroshenko`s private banker. It suggests an assumption of Mr. Poroshenko’s personal interest in the release of the accounts. Exactly one year ago, the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine reported that the bonds went missing.
Until recently, Yuri Soloviev, First Deputy President of Russian State Bank VTB, was their partner at ICU. One of the offshore companies called Quillas Equities was acquired by Yuri Soloviev’s mother-in-law as a present from him right after VTB had been hit by the United States’ sectoral sanctions. According to the Panama Papers, Ms. Gontareva and her partners borrowed $10 million each from that very company.
It should be noted that the VTB financial group sold the company ‘Ukrrosleasing’ to the aforementioned businessman Pavel Fuks. The company dealt with the delivery of underground railway coaches to Kyiv Metropoliten during Mr. Yanukovych’s presidency. In 2017, the Supreme Economic Court of Ukraine ordered to pay the cost of 100 coaches in the amount 1.924 billion UAH to LLC Ukrrosleasing.
And such coincidences of business interests between the Kremlin and Petro Poroshenko’s Ukrainian milieu are far from being rare instances.
As an example, one can have a look at the companies close to businessman Viktor Medvedchuk who counts Vladimir Putin as godfather of his child. He obtained control over the petroleum product pipeline Prykarpatzapadtrans with not a single counteraction undertaken by authorities. Diesel fuel supplied by PJSC Rosneft through that pipeline to the Ukrainian market is 37 percent of its total amount. Furthermore, Mr. Medvedchuk controls two principal information TV-channels in Ukraine. They are NewsOne and 112.ua.
Besides the notorious Roshen factory in Lipetsk, Russia, Mr. Poroshenko has agribusiness in Russia and owns a starch factory LLC Krahmaloprodukty there. Until 2014, the official owner of the company was Mr. Poroshenko`s LLC Ukrprominvest-Agro. In its turn, LLC Krahmaloprodukty (Russia) founded another company called LLC Luckygrain. The company was also engaged in growing grain in Lipetsk. Two weeks after the date set for early presidential elections in Ukraine in 2014, Mr. Poroshenko decided to sell LLC Krahmaloprodukty to an offshore company with the name Chartomena LTD. However, that sale was fake and done only with the purpose of concealing Mr. Poroshenko’s ownership.
The Head of Chartomena LTD is a resident of Cyprus by the name Anri Atanasiu. A person with the same name leads the company HUDC Holding Limited (known as a UA supplier of defense equipment at corrupt prices). The owner of that company is Oleg Svynarchuk-Gladkovskyi, Mr. Poroshenko’s friend and business partner. The second fact to confirm that statement is as follows: Chartomena LTD is owned by Morewig LTD, UK. And the ultimate beneficiary of Morewig LTD is Mr. Poroshenko’s childhood friend, Serhiy Zaytsev, Deputy Director General of the Roshen Corporation. We often hear Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko repeat fine words such as “a final farewell to the Russian Empire” in his patriotic speeches addressed to the army and referencing the conflict in the East of Ukraine. Though, as we see, he can’t manage to bid this long-lasting farewell to the Russian Federation himself.
• Alexandr Dubinsky is editor in chief of 1+1 TV Channel in Kyiv, Ukraine.